Thursday, June 6, 2024

Katie Lou Samuelson: Journey to a Championship

Ninety seconds on the game clock. Spain and the USA are tied 71-71. The FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Under-17 World Championship for Women taking place in the beautiful, romantic city of Pilsen, Czech Republic, will be decided in those seconds.

Katie Lou Samuelson is the USA team captain. She’s on the floor those final, electrifying seconds, leading her team, searching for that final burst of energy and will. As the seconds tick by, Katie Lou travels up and down the court as the teams trade points, the final determination nearing. When the buzzer signals this contest’s end, the USA Team has won 77-75 and retained the FIBA International title (which it had won the past two years) and Katie Lou will hoist the championship trophy high above her head, proud of the accomplishments of herself, her teammates, coaches, and staff.

How did Katie Lou Samuelson (she prefers “Katie Lou” or “Lou”) find herself on this court in the final moments of a world championship game?

Katie Lou had traveled a long distance from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. Her basketball journey started young and was supported by sisters, parents, and great adults along her young life path.

Lou recalls that she started playing basketball very young. “I remember playing basketball around age five, with my sisters Bonnie and Karlie. It was fun and I was always trying to keep up with them. As I grew older, I just wanted to follow in their footsteps,” reminisced Katie. Katie Lou’s older sisters are both basketball stars in their own right, playing for Stanford.

“Dad taught me how to shoot and Mom showed me focus and was always there and encouraged me.”

Karen Samuelson, Katie Lou’s mom, played in professional basketball leagues and was able to spot Katie’s talent and drive early. “She was always climbing up on top of the table or into the dishwasher and had no fear of such things. And, I could see that she always wanted to do what her sisters did. She had drive,” related Karen in a recent telephone interview.

But young and native talent, alone, does not produce a dedicated and talented team captain of an international team. That comes from focus, dedication, and daily commitment. “Don’t lose confidence. Believe that you can do it,” is how Katie explains her secret to success and what straightforward advice she would give others.

To read the rest of this article, check out the latest issue of High School Illustrated – USA National Edition for iPad and iPhone, completely free on the App Store.

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